Legendary comic-book creator, writer, personality, actor and producer Stan Lee has died, his daughter Joan Celia “J.C.” Lee’s attorney said. He was 95 years old.
TMZ said he was rushed to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center Monday morning. The news was also confirmed by The Hollywood Reporter.
Lee had been in bad health this year — he was hospitalised in February for pneumonia. Lee’s wife, Joan, died in July 2017 at the age of 93.
He is survived by his daughter Joan Celia “J.C.” Lee.
The former president and chairman of Marvel comics was the most recognisable and successful comic-book creator in the history of the medium who paved the way for Marvel to become the premiere multimedia company it is today under Disney that produces top-grossing films, television series, video games, merchandise and more.
Lee is credited with writing and creating alongside a collection of artists the majority of Marvel’s staple of superheroes who have become pop culture icons including the Fantastic Four, Hulk, Thor, Iron Man and the X-Men with noted artist Jack Kirby, Daredevil with artist and writer Bill Everett and Marvel’s most successful character, Spider-Man alongside artist Steve Ditko.
Other notable creations include the first mainstream African-American superhero’s Black Panther and Captain America’s partner Falcon, along with iconic side characters for his heroes such as Spider-Man’s love interest Mary Jane Watson and hot-tempered newspaper boss J. Jonah Jameson.
Lee also had a hand in crafting legendary villains in his comic-books such as the Green Goblin, X-Men main antagonist Magneto, Fantastic Four foe Dr. Doom and the planet devouring Galactus.
Lee, real name Stanley Martin Lieber, was born December 28, 1922, in New York City to Romanian immigrants Celia and Jack Lieber.
After being hired at Timely Comics as an interim editor by comic-book publisher Martin Goodman in 1939, which would later morph into Marvel, Lieber changed his published name to Lee with the release of his comic-book debut, Captain America Foils the Traitor’s Revenge in Captain America Comics #3 in May of 1941.
Lee continued working at the company moving up the ladder earning the right to pen pulp comics that centred around mysteries, westerns and science fiction adventures. In 1942, he began serving in the United States Army stateside during World War II working as a writer who helped put together manuals, training films and slogans.
Remaining at Timely which became Marvel Comics in the early 1960s, Lee was challenged by Goodman to create a superhero team that could compete with rival DC Comics’ current hit, Justice League of America, which brought together their staple of popular characters consisting of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern, Aquaman and Martian Manhunter.
Reportedly unsatisfied with his current career, Lee, on the advice of his wife Joan went all in with his own ideas for a superhero team with Kirby. The iconic comic-book duo then created the Fantastic Four in 1961 which became an instant hit for Marvel and allowed Lee and Kirby to continue to create more original characters such as the Hulk, Iron Man and the X-Men.
The writer tackled real-world issues in his comics including the cold war, drug use and depression. Out of Lee’s more relatable, humanistic characters, none became more popular than Spider-Man whom Lee collaborated on with Ditko in 1961. The iconic web-slinger whose alter ego Peter Parker was an unsure, geeky high-schooler who struggled to balance his personal life with being a superhero, quickly became the poster-boy for Marvel.
As Marvel’s popularity skyrocketed, Lee began to write less and was promoted to editorial director and publisher in 1972. Working as a face for the company making various appearances at comic-book conventions, the creator would relocate to California in 1981 to help jumpstart Marvel’s television and movie properties.
Lee was since credited as an executive producer on nearly all of Marvel’s theatrical releases where he was also seen in cameo roles starting with Fox’s 2000 X-Men actioner in which he played a hot dog vendor standing on a beach.
Lee’s cameos would increase in regularity, becoming a staple of Marvel’s films, as he continually appeared in brief, sometimes comedic speaking roles. He had a cameo as “Man in Times Square” in 2007’s Spider-Man 3 as a bystander who explains to Tobey Maguire’s Peter Parker, “You know, I guess one person can make a difference. Nuff said.” He also had a cameo as a man attempting to pull Thor’s hammer Mjolnir out of a crater with his pickup truck in 2011’s Thor jokingly asking, “Did it work?” and as a FedEx postman delivering a package to Tony Stark/Iron Man in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War where he mispronounces Stark’s name as “Tony Stank.”
The comic icon has also done voice work and made appearances across a variety of Marvel video games, cartoons, television show’s and special features. Usually seen playing himself, as a comic-book legend, Lee has guest-starred in shows such as The Simpsons, Robot Chicken, The Big Bang Theory, Entourage and Phineas and Ferb just to name a few.
Lee was recognised throughout his life being placed in the comic-book centred Will Eisner Award Hall of Fame in 1994, receiving the National Medal of Arts honour in 2008 and having his name placed on the 2,429th star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He was honoured with a handprint ceremony in 2017.
“I’m no prophet, but I’m guessing that comic books will always be strong. I don’t think anything can really beat the pure fun and pleasure of holding a magazine in your hand, reading the story on paper, being able to roll it up and put it in your pocket, reread again later, show it to a friend, carry it with you, toss it on a shelf, collect them, have a lot of magazines lined up and read them again as a series. I think young people have always loved that. I think they always will,” Lee said of comic-books and his career.
*Reported by UPI